Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Why Peek at Your Opponent's Hand in Magic?
In Magic, thanks to instants and cards with flash, you never know when an opponent is going to mess with you on your turn. However, you can gain a tactical advantage with spells that let you see your opponent's hand, gaining valuable knowledge of what they can (and can't) play. Do they have a primed counterspell? Maybe hold off on your big play. Are they low on creatures? Start battering away at their life points.
Hand-revealers don't generally cost much mana, and they often let you draw, so they're inexpensive tricks that won't heavily strain your resources. They're most common among the black and blue factions, but some colorless entries let any deck access their powers. So, with dozens of enlightening cards available, which members reign supreme? These are the ten best hand-revealing spells in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Sorcerous Spyglass
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 2
Spyglass doesn't let you draw, but it's a colorless artifact that only needs two mana, easily fitting into any deck. When entering the field, you not only get to look at an opponent's hand, but also name a card. Abilities other than mana abilities of cards with that name can't be activated as long as Spyglass remains fielded.
Use this to shut down your opponent's key traits, an excellent way to dampen opposing commanders in EDH format. Remember, the card you pick can but doesn't have to be one you see in their hand, meaning if nothing looks too threatening, you can name a spell you suspect is in their deck to prevent its future usage.
9. Urza's Bauble
While Urza's Bauble only lets you look at one card in your foe's hand, it's hard to complain considering its nonexistent price. This artifact doesn't require any mana and can tap to reveal a random card in your opponent's hand.
You also get to draw at the start of the next turn's upkeep, having Bauble quickly replace itself in your hand, and its free casting helps access the reduced prices of surge cards, whose costs are lowered when you previously cast another spell during a turn.
8. Zur's Weirding
Enchantment Zur's Weirding costs a fair chunk of four mana, and it forces all players to reveal their hand, so know that your opponents gain the same advantage you do. Still, it's a nice way to continuously unmask your foe's options, and now, whenever a player draws a card, any other player can pay two life to send that card to the graveyard.
This also applies to you but considering blue's impressive draw prowess, you'll repeatedly force your opponents to pick between letting your draws proceed or mutilating their own life.
7. Doomsday Specter
Doomsday works well in structures with several low-cost creatures, as when it enters the field, you have to bounce one of your blue or black monsters back to hand (and you'll be forced to choose Doomsday if you have no other valid targets). He's also not terribly impressive in battle, carrying a mediocre 2/3 (two power and three toughness).
However, Specter has flying, letting him soar over ground blockers, and when he deals combat damage to a player, you get to see their hand and force them to discard a card. These traits work well together, but if your opponent is blocking with their own aerial units (or units with reach), make Specter unblockable with the right auras or equipments.
6. Vendilion Clique
While 3/1 stats aren't great for its cost, Clique more than compensates with its wealth of abilities. This legendary creature carries flash, letting you cast it at instant speed, and also bears flying. More than that, when it enters the field, you get to look at any player's hand, choose a nonland card, move it to the bottom of their library, then have them draw a card.
Most obviously, this can remove a threat from an adversary's hand, but you can even use it to replace an unneeded card in your own (perhaps to better utilize miracle effects) and hopefully draw something better. Throw in useful synergies with both the faerie and wizard factions, and you've got one of blue's best cards.
Telepath is about as simple as it gets. For a single island's mana, this enchantment forces all opponents to play with their hands revealed, giving everyone knowledge of their options.
No extra bonuses beyond the reveal, but since it's ongoing (and doesn't impact you, letting you keep your own array secret), Telepathy's more than welcome in my own commander builds. Prices jump up and down, but when you catch the best deals, you can nab this spell for less than a single dollar!
4. Spy Network
Network's eccentric artwork almost fooled me into thinking it belonged to one of the semi-official "Un" expansions, but nope, it's a full-fledged spell. At instant speed, this single-cost treat lets you look at any player's hand, the top of their deck, and any face-down creatures they possess! Face-downs are rare, but it's still a handy bonus on top of knowing both a foe's hand and next draw.
Then, you also get to look at the top four cards of your own deck and rearrange them as you see fit, a useful ability similar to scrying, except you can't send them to the bottom of your deck.
3. Glasses of Urza
This single-cost artifact accepts a resource of any type, and whenever it taps, you get to look at a player's hand. While not quite as effective as Telepathy (especially in multiplayer games), Urza earns brownie points for its ability to fit into any structure, letting any color consistently steal a glance at a rival's hand.
Peek only lets you briefly view a foe's hand, but its instant speed lets you access it on any turn or phase. Even better, Peek then draws a card, immediately replacing itself in your hand and ensuring you don't lose card advantage. Easy, inexpensive, and versatile, Peek is a very close contender for the top spot, only beaten by...
1. Gitaxian Probe
CMC: 0 or 1 (see below)
Probe lacks Peek's instant status, letting you only play it as a sorcery on your main phase, but it bears the same effect, letting you see a player's hand, then draw a card. However, thanks to its unique mana symbol, you can either play it with one blue mana or two life, letting you conserve your lands for other spells!
Probe makes an excellent addition in EDH, where your higher starting life gives plenty of health to spare, and it helpfully stocks your graveyard for "spell mastery," "threshold," and "delirium" abilities. A staple of any blue commander deck I build, Probe is surprisingly affordable, costing well under two dollars!
Forced Discards in Magic
In addition to today's list, many of black's discard-forcing spells let you uncover your adversary's hand while selecting a card to toss, granting even more ways to see and counter your opponent's strategy.
Remember, knowledge is power, and the more you ascertain about your opponent's deck, the better you'll be able to combat their plays. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of hand-revealing spells, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill